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Rectal Microbiome Alterations Associated With Oral Human Immunodeficiency Virus Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.

  • Author(s): Fulcher, Jennifer A;
  • Li, Fan;
  • Cook, Ryan R;
  • Zabih, Sara;
  • Louie, Alexander;
  • Okochi, Hideaki;
  • Tobin, Nicole H;
  • Gandhi, Monica;
  • Shoptaw, Steven;
  • Gorbach, Pamina M;
  • Aldrovandi, Grace M
  • et al.


Oral daily tenofovir (TFV) disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC) for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective for HIVprevention, yet long-term effects are not fully understood. We investigated the effects of PrEP on the rectal microbiome in a cohort of men who have sex with men (MSM).


This cross-sectional analysis included HIV-negative MSM either on PrEP (n = 37) or not (n = 37) selected from an ongoing cohort using propensity score matching. Rectal swabs were used to examine microbiome composition using 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid gene sequencing, and associations between PrEP use and microbiota abundance were examined. Hair specimens were used to quantify TFV and FTC exposure over the past 6 weeks on a subset of participants (n = 15).


Pre-exposure prophylaxis use was associated with a significant increase in Streptococcus abundance (adjusted P = .015). Similar associations were identified using least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) regression, confirming the increase in Streptococcus and also showing increased Mitsuokella, Fusobacterium, and decreased Escherichia/Shigella. Increased Fusobacterium was significantly associated with increasing TFV exposure.


Oral TDF/FTC for PrEP is associated with rectal microbiome changes compared to well matched controls, specifically increased Streptococcus and Fusobacterium abundance. This study highlights the need for future investigations of the role of microbiome changes on HIV susceptibility and effectiveness of PrEP.

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